PORTAGE - The owners of an artisanal peanut butter company in Portage say the business continues to expand. BNutty was founded in 2014 by Joy Thompkins and initially aimed to raise money for a local youth soccer club. The company has grown to 15 employees with its products being sold throughout northwest Indiana and Illinois, in addition to retailers such as Walmart and QVC. Earlier this year, BNutty announced plans to invest $2 million into a new facility at the AmeriPlex at the Port business park and create up to 100 jobs by 2021.

On a special road show edition of Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick from northwest Indiana, Thompkins said the growth came quickly after starting the business in her kitchen.

"When we moved into what we thought was too big to imagine, it was 2,000 square feet, we quickly were moved out of that," said Thompkins. "We were renting four different units there, running across the parking lot. It wasn't a good flow. So we started looking for someplace else in the region and Portage welcomed us with open arms. We've been there for almost a year but now we have plenty of space and we're constantly expanding and pushing our borders and learning more things."

The idea for BNutty started out as being a once-per-year fundraising effort that involved a healthy product. Podolak says the people who bought the peanut butter fell in love with it, which led to production increasing throughout the year. The product began selling at local specialty stores and grocery stores before being picked up by QVC, which Podolak says led to an explosion of growth.

"We've been really excited. Our partnership with QVC has expanded; what used to be every few months, we're on a few times a month right now," said Podolak. "We've moved on to about 3,000 grocery store shelves across the country. We're currently growing our corporate gift basketing division; we're starting to do a lot of gift baskets and some snack size and travel size. We're hiring right now and we're looking to just continue to expand."